HOW THE JIZYA IS TO BE COLLECTED AND FROM WHOM
(SECOND HALF OF THE EIGHTH CENTURY)

Source: Jews of Arab Lands by Norman A. Stillman (1979)

The Jizya is required of all the ahl al-dhimma in the Sawad (the lower half of Iraq), Hira, and the rest of the conquered lands, namely, the Jews, the Christians, Zoroastrians, Sabaeans, and Samaritans. The only exceptions are the Christians of the Banu Taghlih tribe and the people of Najran.[1] The jizya is incumbent upon all adult males, but not upon women and children. For the wealthy the tax is forty-eight dirhams,[2] for those of medium income twenty-four, and for the poor, the agricultural workers and manual laborers, twelve dirhams. It is to he collected from them each year. It may be paid in kind, for example, beasts of burden, goods, and other such things. These are to he accepted in accordance with their value. However, no animals not ritually slaughtered, no pigs, and no wine may be accepted in payment of the jizya. Caliph Umar b. al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) had already forbidden the acceptance of such things for the jizya. "Leave them to their owners," he said. "They, however, may sell them, and the proceeds from the sale may then he accepted from them." This kind of payment is permissible when it is easier for the tributaries. Caliph Ali b. Abi Talib (may Allah honor him) used to accept large and small needles and would count their value toward their individual tribute, according to what I have learned.

The jizya is not to he collected from the indigent who receives alms, nor from a blindman who has no craft and no work, nor from any invalid receiving alms, nor from any cripple. However, it is to be collected from any invalid, cripple, or blindman with means. The same goes for those monks living in monasteries when they have means, but not from those who are mendicants supported by the alms of wealthy people.

The jizya is not collected from a Muslim, unless he converted after the completion of a calendar year, because the jizya was due from him at the time of his conversion and had become part of the tribute due to the entire Muslim community, and therefore should be collected from him. If, on the other hand, a man converts before the end of a given year-whether by a day or two, or by a month. or two, more or less-no part of the jizya at all is to be collected from him since his conversion was prior to the end of that year. If a man dies before the jizya has been collected from him, or after only a part has been collected, another part remaining. it is not to be collected from his heirs, nor from his estate, since it is not reckoned as an outstanding debt, just as when a man converts still owing a portion of the jizra on his head, it is not collected.

The jizya is not to be exacted from an old man who cannot work and has no resources. Neither may anything be collected from anyone of unsound mind.

The zakat[3] does not apply to the livestock of the Ahl al-Dhimma that is, their camels, cattle, and sheep. This holds true for men and women equally.

No one of the ahl al-dhimma should be beaten in order to exact payment of the jizya, nor made to stand in the hot sun, nor should hateful things be inflicted upon their bodies, or anything of that sort. Rather, they should be treated with leniency. They should be imprisoned until they pay what they owe. They are not to be let out of custody until the jizya has been exacted from them in full. No governor may release any Christian, Jew, Zoroastrian, Sabaean, or Samaritan unless the jizya is collected from him. He may not reduce anyone's payment by allowing a portion to be left unpaid. It is not permissible for one person to be exempted and for another to have to pay. That cannot be done, because their lives and possessions are guaranteed safety only upon payment of the jizya, which is comparable to tribute money.[4]

With regard to collecting the jizya in the major cities, such as Baghdad, Kufa, Basra, and the like, it is my considered opinion that the Imam should entrust it to some man of integrity in each city, one of its good and trustworthy citizens, whose piety and fidelity can be depended upon. Assistants should be appointed for him who are to gather the adherents of the different faiths, namely the Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sabaeans, and Samaritans, and collect from them in accordance with the classifications which I have already described: forty-eight dirhams from the well-todo, 0such as the moncychanger, cloth merchant, the owner of an estate, merchant, the practicing physician, and anyone having a profession or a trade to live by. The jizya should be collected in accordance with their profession or commerce-forty-eight dirhams from the well-to-do and twenty-four from those with middle income .... Twelve dirhams are to be collected from such manual workers as tailors, dyers, shoemakers, and cobblers, and those in similar occupations. When the tax has been collected by those in charge, it should. be turned over to the Treasury.

As for collecting the jizya in the Sawad-you should instruct your agents who arc in charge of collecting the kharaj[5] to send on their authority men whose piety and fidelity can be depended· upon. These men should go to each village and order its headman to gather all its Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sabaeans, and Samaritans. When this is done, they should collect the jizya from them according to the categories outlined above. • • •

Should the village headman say, "I shall make an agreement with you on their behalf and will give you a lump sum for them," the collectors are to ignore his request, because the loss of jizya revenues from this would be very considerable. Let us suppose the village chief made an agreement to pay five hundred dirhams. There may be enough of the ahl al-dhimma to pay one thousand dirhams or more!

It is proper, O Commander of the Faithful (may Allah be your support) that you treat leniently those people who have a contract of protection from your Prophet and cousin, Muhammad (may AlJah b1ess him and grant him peace). You should look after them, so that they are not oppressed, mistreated, or taxed beyond their means. None of their property may be confiscated, except as required by law. It has been related that the Apostle of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: "Whoever oppresses a protege or taxes him beyond his means, will have me as that mans advocate[6]

Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj ·
(Cairo, 1382/1962-63), pp. 122-25.

1 Najran was the Christian center of Yemen in eady Islamic times and the seat of the Nestorian bishop. See above, pp. 19-20.
2 At this time forty-eight dirhams were equal to four dinars. Thus, the graded poll tax was: 4, 2, and 1. This is an amazing precedent, as Muhammad ordered a poll tax of "a dinar of full weight or its equivalent" in 632. See above, p. 20.
3 The zakat was the so-called alms tax incumbent upon all Muslims. See Joseph Schacht, "Zakat,'" El1 4: 1,202-5; also Norman A. Stillman, "Charity and Social Service in Medieval Islam," Societas 5, no. 2 (Spring 1975): 106-7.
4 Ar., wa'l-jizya bi-manzilati mal al-kharaj.
5 Kharaj here is the land tax on conquered lands. See above, p. 25.
6 This is not a canonical hadith. Notice that it is cited without any chain of transmission (isnad).








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